Odeon Haverstock Hill
201 Haverstock Hill,
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The Odeon was in the process of being built when it was taken over by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. chain. It was a ‘class act’ theatre located in a high class district of Belsize Park, Hampstead in northwest London, and when first opened it became the flagship theatre in the chain until the Odeon Leicester Square was built in 1937.
The Odeon Haverstock Hill (sometimes advertised as Odeon Belsize Park or Odeon Hampstead) opened on 29th September 1934 with George Robey in “Chu Chin Chow”. The entrance was located in the centre of a parade of shops that has two floors of apartments above them. Inside the auditorium, seating was arrange in a stadium plan with no overhanging balcony, just a raised section at the rear. There were 652 seats in the stalls and 892 in the rear raised balcony section. The decorative scheme was in a pleasing Art Deco style that had a large central light fixture in the ceiling and four coves surrounding the rectangular proscenium opening, each of which contained concealed lighting. The Odeon was also equipped with a Compton 3Manual/6Rank theatre organ with solo cello and an illuminated console which was opened by Henry Wingfield.
The Odeon was badly damaged by a German bomb in October 1941 which closed it down for many years. The original architect’s T.P. Bennett & Son were brought back in 1954 to restore the building which re-opened under control of the Rank Organisation on 13th December 1954 with Glynis Johns in “Mad About Men” and Jacques Tati in “Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday”. Film stars Diana Dors, Jack Warner and Donald Sinden appeared in person to re-launch the Odeon Cinema.
The Odeon was closed on 23rd September 1972 with Michael Caine in “Pulp” and Ian McShane in “Pussycat, Pussycat I Love You”. The cinema was demolished, leaving just the adjacent parade of shops and flats remaining.
A Budgens supermarket was built on the site and one of the original shop units became the entrance to a new Screen on the Hill cinema. This opened in 1977 and remains open today as the Everyman Belsize Park. (It has its own page on Cinema Treasures).
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